Sunday, January 30, 2011

Museu de História Natural

Saturday, Tyree and I visited the Museu de Historia Natural. It was an eerie experience of colonial gothic delight. Tyree was a great guide to this creepy place. This, he explained, is what biology used to be all about: taxidermy. Hunters used to bring specimens to scientists, who would then preserve them, study them, put them into catergories and then into boxes and jars. In its intentions, this museum is not so different from the Smithsonian or the Natural History Museum in New York. They too have similar dioramas of animals frozen in time - although far better preserved. (This museum in not airconditioned.) I read that the museum was originally founded in 1938 at the Fortaleza, and was moved to its present location in 1956. Yet, I was wrong to think that everything was just as the Portuguese had left it in 1974. We saw a dolphin skeleton dated 2001 and evidence that school children had recently been on a field trip there.

A painting we found around a corner, ripped and covered in dust.

No information accompanied this dinosaur skeleton.

A live mammal, a rare creature in this museum.

Some creepy monkeys.

An exhibit on trash and the wonderful things you can do with it.

Sun fish, peixe da lua in Portuguese.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rua Kwamme N'Krumah

An interesting building on our street.

A collection of passport-sized photos, not one version of which we have enough copies to actually use to apply for passports or visas.

Here's a mural on our street. This image of a slave breaking his chains before an offshore drill confuses me. I just don't equate an oil rig with freedom and liberty.

Now THIS is a great political mural.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Imagens de VIH/SIDA em Luanda

Miss Angola says "It's better to be safe." This is the Instituto Nacional de Luta Contra SIDA. It's a beautiful building. Our hotel is right across the street. Around the corner, there is a mural with details about HIV transmission, myths and advice.

The CDC Angola country page reports that in 2008 the HIV rate among 15 to 49 year olds was around 2.1%. As strange as it sounds, the civil war here, which lasted from around 1975 to 2002 (although some people say as late as 2006) provided a buffer against HIV throughout the '80s and '90s. The war prevented large movement of people in or out of the country. Internal displacement concentrated people around Luanda. The highest rates of HIV in Angola are found near the borders with Namibia, Zambia and the DRC. Now that the war is over, trade between these countries and Angola has increased. The roads have improved and people are more mobile than they once were. This is a critical moment for Angola. With the right steps, it may be possible to avoid the infection rates found in most of Southern Africa.

How is is Not Transmitted

How it is Transmitted

How to Prevent Transmission of HIV

No to Discrimination


Voluntary Testing and Counseling

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hotel Soleme

This is the hotel where we will stay until we find an apartment. We really like the people who run it and we eat dinner here almost every evening with the other guests.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sacred Heart of Tyree

The most common thing Tyree has been hearing as he walks down the streets of Luanda is not gringo or mzungu or whatever the equivalent may be here. No. He most often hears shouts of "Jesus Christ!" or sometimes exclamations such as "Bem-vindo à nossa terra!" or "A final, o Cristo chegou!"

We assume it's because of his beard and long hair, and not because of his halo or bleeding heart.

Zumbi dos Palmares

Here's the post I promised about Zumbi, the inspiration for the song Angola-Brasil by Jorge Benjor. I'm just copying the Wikipedia page because it's fairly well written and a very interesting story:

Zumbi, also known as Zumbi dos Palmares, was the last of the leaders of Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil. Quilombos were settlements of escaped African slaves. Members of quilombos often returned to plantations or towns to encourage their former fellow Africans to flee and join the quilombos. Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons that had escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, "a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Bahia" (Braudel 1984 p 390). At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000. Forced to defend against repeated attacks by the Portuguese, the warriors of Palmares were expert in capoeira.

Zumbi was born free in Palmares in 1655. He was believed to be descended from Imbangala warriors of Angola. He was captured by the Portuguese and given to a missionary, Father António Melo, when he was approximately 6 years old. Baptized Francisco, Zumbi was taught the sacraments, learned Portuguese and Latin, and helped with daily mass. Despite attempts to pacify him, Zumbi escaped in 1670 and, at the age of 15, returned to his birthplace.

Zumbi became known for his physical prowess and cunning in battle and was a respected military strategist by the time he was in his early twenties. By 1678, the governor of Pernambuco, Pedro Almeida, weary of the longstanding conflict with Palmares, approached its leader Ganga Zumba with an olive branch. Almeida offered freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. But Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved. He rejected Almeida's overture and challenged Ganga Zumba's leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares.

Fifteen years after Zumbi assumed leadership of Palmares, Portuguese military commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Bernardo Vieira de Melo mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos, or Maroons, of Palmares, the Portuguese succeeded in destroying Cerca do Macaco, the republic's central settlement. Before the king Ganga Zumba was dead, Zumbi had taken it upon himself to fight for Palmares' independence. In doing so he became known as the commander-in-chief in 1675. Due to his heroic efforts it increased his prestige. Palmares' warriors were no match for the Portuguese artillery; the republic fell, and Zumbi was wounded in one leg.

Though he survived and managed to elude the Portuguese and continue the rebellion for almost two years, he was betrayed by a mulato who belonged to the quilombo and had been captured by the Paulistas, and, in return for his life, led them to Zumbi's hideout. Zumbi was captured and beheaded on the spot November 20, 1695. The Portuguese transported Zumbi's head to Recife, where it was displayed in the central praça as proof that, contrary to popular legend among African slaves, Zumbi was not immortal. This was also done as a warning of what would happen to others if they tried to be as brave as him. Remnants of quilombo dwellers continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.

November 20 is celebrated, chiefly in Brazil, as a day of Afro-Brazilian consciousness. The day has special meaning for those Brazilians of African descent who honor Zumbi as a hero, freedom fighter, and symbol of freedom. Zumbi has become a hero of the twentieth-century Afro-Brazilian political movement. And he is a national hero in Brazil as well.

Related Posts:


Maroons in Suriname

Tuesday, January 18, 2011